Condemned by some as a bloodthirsty move to impose a violent culture on children, authorities in Australia's most populous state are considering a plan to allow under-18s to hunt feral animals on their own with knives, dogs and bows and arrows.
The hunting lobby in New South Wales says the proposal will encourage more families to take up their sport and also to help stop the damage inflicted on the environment by hordes of wild pigs, foxes and rabbits.
Australian Greens, however, insist it would promote an unhealthy interest in firearms and the killing of animals.
The debate is often framed as pitting the sensitivities of the city against the realities and traditions of the country.
On a cattle farm that has been plagued by rabbits and foxes near the town of Blayney, 240km west of Sydney, Matthew Mumford lies on the dirt gazing down the barrel of a .22 rifle, a family favourite.
Watched by his father on a bright winter's day in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, the 16-year-old high school student steadies his grip, slows his breathing and gently squeezes the trigger.
The air is split by an almighty crack that reverberates off rolling hills dotted with thickets of eucalyptus trees. It is a carefully calibrated routine that has yielded many kills in recent years.
"In a way you could say it was like a reward because you have been learning how to use it correctly and how to treat it properly, and when you first get to use one it's exhilarating. It felt very liberating, relaxing.
"They are feral animals so you have to distance yourself from them. I try not to put too much thought into it because you're killing something that is alive. It is not something you take enjoyment out of. It's feral pest control [and] you've got to do it."
His father, John Mumford, is the chairman of the Game Council of New South Wales, a state-run agency that advises the government. It has drawn up guidelines that would permit 12-to-17-year-olds to hunt and kill feral pests on public land with bows, pig- hunting dogs and knives without adult supervision. "I don't see any reason why young kids can't come out and be taught to hunt responsibly, get them away from Xboxes, computer screens and those sorts of things. I don't see any harm in that."